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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Truth-in-Labeling FOIA Exemptions: A GREAT Idea

Most people don’t realize this, but there are hundreds of exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act buried in laws passed by Congress.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced legislation today that would force lawmakers to “explicitly and clearly” state when they are creating such exemptions to FOIA in all future bills.

The legislation is intended to coincide with Sunshine Week, which starts on Sunday. For those in the dark, that is a week devoted to prying open the byzantine ways of Congress and the federal government.

The exemptions to FOIA addressed in the measure are known as (b)(3) statutory exemptions. They are typically tucked away in massive legislative proposals, making it difficult for requestors to determine whether access to information is subject to FOIA.Â

“This latest bill is an effort to further enhance government transparency and accountability,” Cornyn said. “Sunshine Week is an opportunity to highlight these important principles of our founding fathers; a truly self-governing society depends on an informed citizenry. Chairman Leahy and I will continue working together to ensure the public’s fundamental right to know what their government is doing.”

More here.

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